Since 2004, Meor and Olami has been working on college campuses to inspire, educate and empower young Jews — the future leadership of the Jewish community. In 2015, a brave group of educators, young lay leaders, and donors came together to form Meor Manhattan and take it to the next level.
Since then, working out of the Jewish Enrichment Center in Greenwich Village, Meor Manhattan has been building and cultivating a vibrant community of Jewish young professionals that is changing Jewish life in the heart of New York City, and is moving the needle for the future of the Jewish people.
MEET THE TEAM
Meor Manhattan started as one of Rabbi Lynn’s visions of what could be. After over a decade at the helm of one of Meor’s first and most vibrant campuses, he realized that if Meor did not evolve to galvanize its thousands of alumni that were living in NYC, it would be missing a historic opportunity to impact American Jewry. For years, Rabbi Lynn would make trips up from Philly to keep his former students from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) connected to what had turned them onto Judaism in college. The time had come to help this network become the thriving community it is today. Under his guidance and inspired by his out-of-any-box-you’ve-ever-encountered creativity, we have built a full ecosystem of communal learning opportunities and social meeting points for young Jews of New York to mature and become the young leaders that we need to lead the way forward.
Rabbi Lynn served for 12 years as Executive Director of Meor at Penn, where he continues to teach regularly. The Maimonides Leaders Fellowship, his flagship program there, is now available at more than 50 campuses throughout North America. The Israel and Poland trips he pioneered in his early years at Penn have become national entities, receiving generous support from foundations and Israeli government initiatives with thousands of alumni.
Before coming to Penn, Rabbi Lynn lived in Israel for nine years. He studied Torah, Jewish philosophy, and Talmudic law at the renowned Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, the largest yeshiva in Israel. Not having taken the most typical track to the Mir Yeshiva, Rabbi Lynn first graduated from Duke University, and then went on to the Tisch Film School at NYU, later spending several years working as a writer in Los Angeles. He was born in New York City, and is happy to be back, but he grew up in sunny Palm Beach, Florida.
He is the husband of Ruthi Lynn, a parenting specialist and founder of Aliyt, a Jewish Family Support Organization for Women. Mrs. Lynn is a graduate of Cambridge University in the U.K., where she earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Oriental studies. Rabbi and Mrs. Lynn, who first met in Israel, are the parents of eight children.
Born and raised in London, Batsheva brings enthusiasm, energy, and over 10 years of experience in events and project management. In particular, Batsheva spent 5 years running young professional events and regular programming at the Jewish Learning Exchange in London (JLE), as well as five years in education. Batsheva is passionate about inspiring young Jews to the richness of their heritage through beautiful, thoughtful and evocative design that awakens their senses and imagination. She defines success as how much a program positively enriches people’s day to day lives. In the past five years, in her spare time, Batsheva has established a thriving party planning business, and enjoys the opportunity to orchestrate people’s celebratory occasions on a regular basis!
Rabbi Jack has been teaching Meor students since 2008. He himself was one of the first Meor students at Penn (an ongoing debate with now Meor Penn Rabbi Rick Fox). He was instrumental in helping Rabbi Lynn recruit for the first Maimonides program on campus. After graduating with a double major in physics and philosophy, Rabbi Jack went on to study Talmud and Jewish philosophy and character development in Jerusalem. He returned to Penn, now a rabbi, and at the time, the only one with the inside scoop on the jazz and bluegrass speakeasies in West Philadelphia. Rabbi Jack took time off from work to pursue a masters in education from Harvard, which helped him better help people learn about themselves and learn Torah in more engaging and stimulating ways. Rabbi Jack teaches all week, all over the city, at different levels, and focusing on different subjects, attuned to the desires of the people he’s learning with. One of his passions is people accessing and actualizing their unique individual missions, and currently has a book being published by Mosaica Press on the subject titled Born to Be. Together with his wife the famed Meor Manhattan educator Calanit, and their kids Avigayil, Leah and Moshe, the Cohens are excited to be living in the Upper East Side, and cultivate a vibrant community there.
Elana is a native New Yorker. She embarked upon her journey at Meor Manhattan by attending a Poland Trip as the grandaughter of Holocaust survivors and the rest is history (which is appropriate, given her love of history). Elana received her degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Communication Design with a background in Fine and Applied Arts. She then moved on to the prestigious Starr Restaurant Group where she honed her hospitality and signature event style.
After a decade, Elana left the restaurant world to join the Jewish nonprofit world where she uses her hospitality sensitivities to make people feel at home in the Jewish community. She brings her design and artistic vision to Meor Manhattan, and is fueled by her love of the Jewish People to curate beautiful events and programs. In her spare time, she can be found S.C.U.B.A. diving, hiking, or exploring New York on bicycles alongside her husband Alex.
The narrow country of Chile was not broad enough to contain the exuberant energy of our educator — Calanit. At 19, she set off for Jerusalem to deepen her knowledge of Jewish wisdom. Through her years of study, Calanit was inspired to gain the understanding and skills to help people improve the day-to-day quality of their lives. She received her dual masters in Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, and went on to have a private practice in Miami, as well as teaching the life wisdom of Judaism in many venues around the community.
She then went on to lecture and mentor at Meor Penn and afterwards Meor Harvard. She now teaches in her inimitable way by facilitating poignant and dynamic conversations on Tuesday nights at Nishma/Spiral Up, and pioneering a new initiative to inspire soulful dating and nurture stronger marriages among the couples in our community. Together with her husband Rabbi Jack and their kids Avigayil, Leah and Moshe, the Cohens feel blessed to be part of the Meor Manhattan team.
Rabbi Blachman was born and raised in Jerusalem. He studied at the famed Chevron Yeshiva and went on from there to study under Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz in the prominent Jerusalem Kollel, which trains rabbis who serve all over the globe. Aside from his yeshiva studies, he undertook several business endeavors, one of which involved founding his own ice cream company in Israel.
He moved to New York City to be part of the team at Meor Manhattan, and lives on the Upper West Side with his wife Rivka and two children. He hosts lively Shabbos meals with 20+ guests which is talked about far and wide. Additionally, he founded the Manhattan Learning Lounge men’s learning program to inspire and help guys break into the exhilarating study of the Talmud.
Growing up in the New York area, Mendy is descended from more than 20 generations of rabbis. He studied in the Harvard of the Yeshiva world, Brisk, and received rabbinic ordination as well as a first rabbinic degree from the Jerusalem Kollel. He has previously worked as an editor and is a qualified shochet (ritual slaughterer) as well!
Mendy was head of the Oorah Jerusalem Chillzone, a program dedicated to providing a family experience for American University students spending a gap year in Jerusalem. Mendy was the Director of Aish Essex in Northeast London creating programs for young Jews, preparing young couples for their weddings and the Brukirer home has become legendary as a hub for people in the area and beyond.
Born and bred in London, Rabbi Yoni Spinka is pounding the pavement of Manhattan, meeting young, interested Jews wherever they may be, and learning with people who want to learn weekly all over the city. Rabbi Spinka comes to us after seven years of experience at Meor Penn.
Jackie had a private practice in Sydney Australia and worked as the resident “Psychologist” on the national “Today Show”, a TV breakfast current affairs program for 2 years. She was a keynote speaker for 3 consecutive years for the National Young Leaders Foundation in Australia.
Jackie since then has lived in Israel and then moved to the USA. spearheading several global programming and works full time at Olami in the senior team – as the Leadership Director. She is passionate about self development, runs a meditation once a month. She runs the women’s wing of Meor Manhattan – Souled which brings young women together to discuss hot topics, meditation and workshops! Jackie recently got married to the amazing Aaron Glaser.
Faigy has been working with the JEC Meor Manhattan for 10 years now! Although born and bred in Brooklyn, she is currently a “Real House Wife” of Long Island. She is married to the entrepreneur, Elimelech Blumstein and has a boatload of kids (5 to be exact). She spent 4 years living in Israel while attending College abroad. After receiving her Masters in Psychology, she works as a school psychologist for the Board of Education. She teaches Wednesday evenings at Meor in City and host’s her very own “Faigy Show”. Faigy is known as a “Mystic Millenial” and teaches Chassidus to the masses. Along with learning one on one with students, she spends time with Brides and teaches them the secrets behind the beauty of a Jewish Marriage. Her favourite things are manicures, skiing, starbucks and a good hashtag every now and then! She prides herself on trying out new recipes and loves hosting for Shabbat.
Taly was born and raised in Chile. A natural burning desire to bring Jews together she has spent a lot of her life connecting and learning with young Jews. She studied Business at Adolfo Ibaniez University and a semester in Stern in NYC. She worked for NCSY as an advisor for 7 years and has made the jump to New York City to engage with the Meor Manhattan community. Taly loves to travel and has been to over 20 countries.
Ariella joined the Meor Manhattan team two years ago. Hailing from Chicago, Ariella currently resides on the Upper West Side. As a Clinical Social Worker, Ariella enjoys connecting psychology and spirituality in her classes. Ariella works at a school as social worker at Manhattan Day School, as well as private practice in Midtown. Ariella’s energy and passion for Torah and spirituality is real and authentic. Earlier this year, Ariella launched a women’s learning program, partnered with Souled, IGNITE, which connects women from different backgrounds to learn one on one together. Time to learn, time to ask questions and time to process feelings, thoughts and various ideas learned. Ariella feels passionate about educating strong Jewish women and empowering them to learn the beauty of being Jewish.
Bianca grew up in a traditional Jewish family in Caracas, Venezuela where she attended Jewish day school before moving to Israel to study Political Science at IDC, where she co-founded a public diplomacy “War Room” to help Israel’s public diplomacy during Operation Pillar of Defense. After college, Bianca joined the Israeli Mission at the UN before serving in the IDF as liaison officer in the Military Colleges. Bianca got her Masters Degree in National Security at Haifa University and attended the Women’s Campaign School at Yale which lead her to Olami where she held the position of Donor Relations and Special Initiatives Coordinator.